I decided to go on a last minute cruise that was close by and not too expensive, didn't really care about the ports (or shift) as I've been on this same trip 3 times now, this is the second time on the Sapphire on this itinerary.
I'm not going to comment on the many other things people have reviewed on the ship or ports, they have done a great job.
I've been on Princess before on family vacations, liked the service and the atmosphere, really liked the food. This was both a very nice cruise and a little disappointment.
I was upgraded from an obstructed view (the reason I booked was because I could get a confirmed cabin, and it was a really good deal with credits, but I have to pay much more as a single) to a balcony. My parents decided to join me and also booked a balcony mini suite after I did and they are Platinum, not sure if that was the reason why I was upgraded or they just had an open cabin.
We went through the embarkation process together using their perks; it was nice to bypass the herd, but the woman who checked us in (she had to go to the 'other' side for my stuff) mentioned that I should be gold and not sure why my card was blue. We found out after we had gone through security and they checked the card to my passport, she had given me a card with someone else's name on it, but it was for the cabin I had booked. Really weird, but I never checked my name on the card at the counter. We waited a few minutes off to the side and when the security person returned, she said she had talked with her supervisor and I had been upgraded to the A deck, (But my card was already printed and the distilled water was already in the cabin?) I thanked her anyhow.
The cabin upgrade was very nice, people have mentioned that Sapphire is due for an overhaul, but she's still in good condition; but I definitely can't afford a balcony cabin (VERY NICE). I spent a lot of time enjoying the cabin, much more than if I had been without a balcony. The service on the cruise was great, crew was friendly and inviting, the food was good, but not what I was anticipating. The class of passengers was good, most people dressed up for the formal nites, not too many jerks, and since school was not out, not too many kids or teenagers (I have one myself).
But I think that since Carnival owns Princess, they have 'limited' the cuisine onboard. Never saw salmon (LOX) at the Horizon Buffet, it closed down at midnight (I think that's a good idea in today's economy) but there were no chocolate buffet or any other extras. The dining rooms were packed, busy, and the food was good, if on the skimpy side. I think that's fine, we all eat too much anyhow; and I learned to order two servings of the bagels after the first day. But the overall feeling was that the cuisine has been 'downgraded' or limited was apparent. The food was good, but the selection was definitely smaller than I remembered. I ordered two of the escargot and they were great, but I could still tell. The menu's were still interesting.
I went ahead and booked the $100 cabin reservation for the cabin credit, as I still enjoy cruising, but I left feeling that Princess isn't as special as I remembered it. Since I got a great deal, it was still worth it.